The Luangwa Valley

No 9 on my Top Ten African Safari destinations is Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, long renowned for its leopard sightings, range of reasonably accessible wildlife and the ‘home’ of the walking safari.


Where: Head by light aircraft north-east of Zambia’s capital Lusaka, most visitors fly into the Mfuwe Airstrip on scheduled flights.

Why: Lovely secnery and plenty of wildlife, including good herds of elephant, some huge bufaalo herds, good lion and terrific numbers of hippo and crocodile.  The Luangwa is renowned for its leopard sightings, particularly at night using a spotlight and for its excellent walking safaris. Some small and very genuine safari camps add hugely to the safari experience.

When: The Luangwa Valley is at its best in the dry season, June to October and although later into the dry season before the November rains it can get very hot , (the brain-fever season!), the  game viewing is also at its best as the number of hippo and crocs in the rapidy diminishing Luangwa River can be astonishing, and much wildlife is drawn to the river banks.

During Luangwa’s off-season, the ‘Emerald season’, game viewing is harder, but to compensate there are plenty of young around, the vegetation is green and verdant, there are low season prices at the camps and the photography light and birding is at its best!


Where in the Park: South Luangwa has the most visitors and probably the easiest and most accessible game viewing, but even here going further south away from the Mfuwe area gives some lovely wilderness experiences.  North Luangwa has fewer people, fewer camps and fewer roads and tracks, and hence is more of a walking safari destination.

How long: You need at least 4 nights in the Luangwa, 6 nights or more if you want to visit two or more camps properly.

What to do: Game viewing by open safari vehicle, including night game drives with a spotlight to look for nocturnal animals, as well as escorted game walks from many camps.  Zambia has a very well-developed walking safari system using licensed walking guides working in tandem with a park ramger scout.  From some camps it’s possible to walk to the next camp – a wonderful way to arrive at an African bush camp.

My View:  A great alternative to Tanzania or Botswana particularly for those looking for a real walking safari. Combining Luangwa with some of Zambia’s other great parks such as Kafue or the Lower Zambezi and  finishing at the incomparable Victoria Falls makes Zambia a favoured safari destination for many.


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Next on the Top Ten – the finale – No 10:  the famous Serengeti National Park.



The Top Ten Wildlife Areas of East & Southern Africa!

Actually they’re my ‘Top Ten’ as like all choices it’s all subjective and highly personal, however after nearly 30 years of taking groups on safari in East and Southern Africa I know what works and which areas make for a great safari destination!

Of course, there’s far more to it than simply the destination: you have to be there at the right time of the year, in the right part of the park and doing your safari in the right way, but if you end up visiting a combination of any of my Top Ten, you’ll have a wildlife experience to savour!

Over the next month or so, every few days I’ll be posting a new blog with the next entry on my list, with information on why the area is such a great safari destination, when and where to go, how long you might want to stay and what to do there.

Starting tomorrow with the jewel in Botswana’s crown –  The Okavango Delta!

Talk tomorrow – and to make sure you don’t miss any of the ten, click on the Follow button at the bottom of this Blog which will alert you when a new blog is posted.


For further details on African photographic safaris or on any of the areas mentioned in this blog visit:

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